Monday, June 30, 2008

FBI & Anthrax: Cold Case Files or Al Qaeda?

Steven Hatfill was the unfortunate victim of the Keystone Kop bureaucracy investingating the anthrax murders [one of which occurred just two miles from my home here in Boca Raton]. Here's the WSJ editorial:
FBI psychologists and handwriting analysts drew up a behavioral profile concluding that the assailant was a domestic loner without links to terrorist groups. But a Unabomber in a shack wouldn't have the sophistication to produce what were believed to be near weapons-grade biological weapons. So the FBI decided the attacks must have been carried out by a military scientist or someone with access to a U.S. defense lab.

Suspicion settled on Mr. Hatfill, a bioweapons expert and former Army microbiologist. The FBI began a relentless pursuit, including constant surveillance and a high-profile raid of his apartment in hazmat suits. It drained an entire pond near Washington in search of incriminating evidence, at a cost of a quarter-million dollars. Mr. Hatfill maintains his innocence.

The FBI's mad scientist theory also fit the agenda of the political left, which didn't want the trail of evidence to prove state-sponsorship of terror – particularly by Iraq. (Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times pushed the Hatfill theory of the case especially hard.) But the possibility of a foreign source should never have been downplayed. Saddam Hussein had deployed chemical attacks in the Iran-Iraq war and against the Kurds. In 1995, Iraq admitted to U.N. weapons inspectors that it had added thousands of liters of anthrax and other toxins to its biological arsenal.

In 2006, the FBI revised its assessment of the anthrax powder. While it was of exceptional purity and quality, scientists now say it lacked signs of the special milling process necessary for weaponization. In addition, the particular Ames strain of the anthrax used in the attacks – a clue seeming to point to a domestic source – has turned out to be far more common than originally believed, appearing in laboratories world-wide, including nations of the former Soviet Union.

So the FBI needed to cast a wider net all along – which still remains urgent. In 2007, 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a military tribunal he was "directly in charge" of "managing and following up on the Cell for the Production of Biological Weapons, such as anthrax and others." The 9/11 Commission reported that al Qaeda has had an "ambitious" bioweapons program. Though there's no evidence that al Qaeda operatives succeeded in manufacturing weapons-grade agents, the anthrax case proves that such high-level production isn't necessary for an attack. And there's no telling what's floating around out there.

So Mueller's gang-that-can't-shoot-straight neglected interrogating KSM while following weird NYT columnists like Commissar Kristof in their doomed quest to find another Lee Harvey Oswald.

The USA is permeated with a political class unwilling or unable to assess national security threats that don't fit their narrow agenda---to stop demonizing Islamic terrorists & divert attention towards the "military-industrial complex" defending the US from its hostile opponents. Large elements of the GWB administration, including the Justice Dept, fell into the mindset of the loony ultra-left personified by the paranoid ravings of a Kristof or a Seymour Hersh. [Kristof in a recent column on Israel managed to rant about Hebron's poor Palestinians without mentioning ancient Hebrew inhabitants since 1000 BC nor the infamous Arab massacres of Jews there in 1929---like a Joe Friday inversion, no facts necessary for Commissar Kristof, just an Arab victim playbook will do.]

It speaks encyclopedic volumes when an anthrax attack on the US government [Congress & the SCOTUS] is answered by an FBI-profiler witch hunt rather than an overall assessment of who perpetrated the attacks. As long as Osama lives and the anthrax attack remains unsolved, 9/11 remains a live issue that cries out for resolution.

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